The Importance of Healthy Immune System
Just as the world is filled with disease-causing organisms, the body is filled with defenses to resist them. In fact, no matter what your pet is confronted with, her body is well-designed to fight back. Studies have shown, for example, that cats that have suffered serious nerve injuries can recover complete muscle function. When pets take medications (or eat poisons), the liver produces extra enzymes to detoxify them. Even something minor as a pulled muscle is swiftly addressed with an increase in blood flow, which brings additional oxygen and nutrients and carts off wastes. The main reason a pet gets sick, according to holistic veterinarians, is that something is interfering with the body’s natural healing powers.
The key to self-healing is a strong defense system, which protects dogs and cats from everything from the flu germs to cancer cells. More than their mainstream counterparts, holistic veterinarians believe that a weak immune system plays a key role in causing disease. Antibiotics fight infection, but they don’t affect whatever weakened the immune system in the first place. This is why holistic veterinarians focus less on things that cause diseases and more on those that affect the body’s defenses.
For instance, some veterinarians believe that there is a type of energy, or life force, that surrounds and flows into every living thing. You are not aware of this energy. You can’t see it or hear it, and scientists still don’t know how to measure it. But it is every bit as real as the invisible germs that surround us.
When this energy is flowing freely, dogs and cats have a superb ability to resist disease. But when the energy is blocked or unbalanced due to such things as stress or injuries, pets become vulnerable to illness. And once they get sick, the energy becomes even more unbalanced, making it much harder for them to recover.
Everything dogs and cats experience, from the quality of afternoon light to an upsetting afternoon, can affect the body’s energy balance. But a few things in particular, such as diet, stress and exercise, play the biggest roles in determining whether pets get sick or stay healthy.
Just as the wrong fuel causes car engines to knock and ping, certain diets make the body vulnerable to problems. Most pets eat commercial foods which are loaded with artificial dyes, preservatives, and additives. Dogs and cats have spent eons eating ‘wild’, natural foods, and this is what their systems are designed for. It is only in the last several decades that they have been exposed to commercially prepared foods, as well as the chemicals these foods contain – chemicals that their bodies simply aren’t meant to handle. In addition, artificial ingredients can trigger an immune response that can, quite literally, make pets sick.
The immune system is designed to attack foreign invaders while ignoring ‘normal’ molecules, such as those found in food. The chemicals in foods certainly aren’t natural. If the immune system perceives them as threats, it will mount a defense. A meal of dry kibble can unleash a flood of basophils and other immune-system cells, which in turn, release chemicals such as histamine. Unfortunately, these chemicals aren’t entirely benign. In some cases, they can trigger a rash of itching, vomiting or diarrhea.
Diet affects the immune system in other ways as well. Among the most important components of immunity are antibodies. Antibodies are nothing more than specialized germ-fighting proteins. The only time your pet can make enough antibodies is when she is healthy and well-fed.
In addition, the digestive track has evolved to digest and process certain kinds of foods. Extra ingredients such as food additives put a strain on the whole body as it works to break them down. It is especially hard on the kidneys and liver because these organs cleanse the boy of impurities and unnecessary nutrients.
Holistic veterinarians believe that diet – more specifically a diet consisting of highly processed foods of questionable nutritional quality – is the main reason pets get sick, This is why holistic care nearly always involves changes in diet, regardless of other treatments your vet may recommend.
The immune system is truly too complex to go into anymore detail at this time! But it is important to know and remember that it is designed to defend your pet against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that would love to invade their body at anytime! All of these open the door wide to a variety of diseases that will pray on your pet’s health including, but not limited to, diabetes, cancer, leukemia, toxic conditions, tumors, neurological conditions, allergies, kidney problems, infectious diseases, respiratory illness, kennel cough, mange and more.
How to Boost Your Pet’s Immune System
Aside from feeding a high quality and natural diet, there are several ways to boost your pet’s immune system, the first of which is highly endorsed by PreciousPets.org and veterinarians.
Purine pyrimidine complexes are the active fractions found in colostrum, the first milk produced by mammals. Colostrum contains cytokines and other protein compounds that can act as biological response modifiers. Research supports its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis as well as other autoimmune conditions. Nucleotides also may play an important role in essential fatty acid metabolism, and may have a positive effect on the functions of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver. Nucleotides are usually given to pets in the form of colostrum or a product called Transfer Factor, which I highly endorse. See chart below to see for yourself how Transfer Factor compares to other popular immune boosting products.
Transfer Factor Plus Tri-Factor™ Offers Unprecedented Immune Boosting Ability
Tests from The Institute of Longevity Medicine – Darryl See, M.D.
Natural Killer cells, or NK cells, are important immune cells that provide a crucial first defense against infectious agents and diseased cells. Once activated, NK cells react in two ways. First, they promptly secrete chemical messenger proteins that modulate emerging immune cell responses. Second, they become potent killers of infected cells. Without Natural Kill cells, threatening conditions can get a strong foothold before additional immune responses are able to kick in.
“A four month old kitten had a severe skin condition that was diagnosed as ringworm. After four months of conventional therapy, the resistant ringworm infection was not resolved. We put the kitten on Transfer Factor™ and within 5 days there were no apparent ringworm lesions remaining. Within a few weeks all the hair had grown back – and the now 9 month old cat has a beautiful, glossy coat. The ringworm lesions have not returned.” Sam Jones, DVM
“I have an 11 year-old dog, a Bichon Frise who has had congenital kidney problems. Two surgeries for bladder stones, being on a urine acidifier for 10 years to keep the infections down, and I had to monitor her urine daily with a urinalysis dip test. She has been on TF-Pets Canine Formula for two months and she now is off all of her medicine except TF-Pets. My vet can hardly believe it, but he is now carrying the product in his clinic. Bonnie Lee
Using nutritional supplements to boost the immune system in times of illness is very important for any sick pet. While supplements can be used to support the immune system during any illness, I am most often asked to recommend something for pets with the following problems: any infectious disease (especially feline respiratory disease, kennel cough, distemper;) cancer; mange; and any condition in older pets that just “aren’t acting quite right.” In this article, I’ll discuss some of the more commonly used immune-boosting supplements, along with recommendations on how to keep your pet’s immune system acting as healthy as possible all year long.
Antioxidants are among the most commonly used supplements to help pets with a variety of medical disorders. Antioxidants are specific vitamins (such as vitamin C and vitamin E) and plant and animal compounds (bioflavonoids such as grape seed extract, quercetin, coenzyme Q-10, ginkgo biloba) that are responsible for maintaining health. Technically, they do not boost the immune system (although proanthocyanidins appear to potentiate the immune system via enhancement of T-lymphocyte activity and modulation of neutrophil and macrophage responses) but rather clean up the products of cell damage (oxidizing chemicals.) Antioxidants also decrease various chemicals (histamine, interleukin, tumor necrosis factor) that cause cell damage. Because antioxidants minimize damage to cells, they are useful whenever disease is present and immune support is needed.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida) is the most commonly known immune stimulant, which also functions as an antimicrobial (antiviral and antibacterial) herb. In people, echinacea is the number-one cold and flu herbal remedy. There are a number of classes of pharmocologically active chemicals in echinacea, including polysaccharides, flavonoids, caffeic acid, essential oils, alkylamides, and polyacetylenes. Currently, to prevent long term immune system problems, most doctors recommend using echinacea for a short period of time (3-4 weeks) followed by a resting period (3-4 weeks) before the herb is resumed.
Arabinogalactans are polysaccharides mainly derived from larch tree (Larix occidentalis.) Studies have shown that these compounds may enhance natural killer cells and cause a release of interferon gamma. Arabinogalactan has strong immunostimulating and anti-inflammatory properties. Arabinogalactans can be used as part of the integrative approach to cancer treatment and anytime immune stimulation is needed (viral, bacterial, or fungal diseases.) The product ImmunoSupport by RX Vitamins for Pets is the only arabinogalactan product currently available.
Purine nucleotides are the final class of supplements that can be helpful for pets needed immune system support. These compounds are involved in virtually all cellular processes and play a major role in structural, metabolic, energetic and regulatory functions. Like arabinogalactans, they have been shown to stimulate the activity of natural killer cells.
Boosting your pet’s immune system, and keeping it in tip-top shape, is one of the best gifts you can give your precious pet!